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Meet your 2021 OUSA President

Harrison Boyle image
The Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) 2021 President is Wellington-born student Michaela Waite-Harvey.

Ko Tararua, Ruahine tōku maunga
Ko Ōtaki, ko Waikawa, ko Ohau, ko Manawatū, ko Rangitīkei, ko Ōroua ōku awa
Ko Tainui te waka.
Ko Ngātokowaru te marae
Ko Ngāti Pareraukawa te hapū
Ko Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga te iwi.
Nō Kāpiti me Waiharakeke ahau.
Ki te taha o tōku whaea, nō Ōtaki ahau;
Ki te taha o tōku matua, nō Suva, nō Fiji ahau.
Ni sa bula vinaka.

The Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) 2021 President is Wellington-born student Michaela Waite-Harvey. Michaela is currently completing her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Classics). We took a moment to ask Michaela a few questions about why this role is important and what she would like to achieve as President in 2021.

Why did you want to become OUSA President?

There hasn’t been an OUSA Māori Student President since 1998, nor has there been a Pasifika one - until I took on the role. I think this is important representation when working with our partner agents and also for ensuring that those in minority groups are represented. I am the first person in my family to go to university and I want to remind people the tertiary landscape is evolving. I want to use this opportunity to empower others like myself.

In high school I realised that advocacy was one of my strengths. My friends and I created the first queer students support group and lobbied for the schools’ first transgender bathroom. I plan to continue using my advocacy skills to support minorities at Otago too.

Last year I was an OUSA Equity Representative and began working on important projects. I’m not the kind of person to leave things unfinished and taking on the role of President will allow me to see those through.

What do you feel are the main issues currently faced by students?

I think that external stress on students is particularly high in the modern world. Workloads are constantly increasing and alongside the pressure caused by COVID-19, it can be hard for students to gauge work-life balance. Dealing with study, living costs increasing, fees increases and relationship pressures is a lot for students to contend with. I wouldn’t say that this is new but I would say it compounds year on year. I think we are already starting to make changes for students especially with blended learning. Now that we have experienced online learning, we’ve learnt it makes education accessible for students who also work, have kids, when students are unwell and so on.

What are your aims for this year?

One of the goals that myself and OUSA have this year is drug harm reduction. OUSA is one of the first organisations to openly test drugs as part of this. During O-Week, we partnered with Know Your Stuff for drug testing which saw 70 per cent of tested drugs discarded. I would also like to work with the University on creating a more peer-driven approach to student offenders. I like a restorative process with a focus on helping students reintegrate back into the student community safely.

What did this year’s Orientation programme offer?

The biggest thing for the Student Executive this year was the Drop for Good sale. This is an initiative started by myself and my team last year. We wanted to know how we could stop students from dumping things that still have life in them and keep our streets clean. The sale is a solution to new students needing items on a budget and preventing waste. It was a good, practical event that everyone loved.

Kōrero by Internal Communications Adviser, Chelsea McRae